Shinty funding boost

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The Camanachd Association has welcomed news of a funding boost for the Bught Park, Inverness, and a potential shinty museum as part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

A total of £20 million will go to Inverness Zero Carbon Cultural Regeneration, the umbrella term for the redevelopment of Inverness Castle, the Northern Meeting Park and Bught Park.

The Bught Park is a key sport and leisure complex in Inverness and the home of Inverness Shinty Club.

It also hosts the MacTavish Cup Final and Scotland’s internationals with Ireland.

The funding provides for a refurbished grandstand, a new interactive museum of shinty and improvements to host more large-scale outdoor events.

Camanachd Association president Steven Mackenzie said: ‘The Camanachd Association looks forward to hearing more details on how this funding will improve Bught Park.

‘I thank all the parties involved in this successful funding application but particularly the Camanachd Association’s directors and staff who have worked closely with Inverness Shinty Club to ensure shinty was an integral part of the funding bid.’

Derek Keir, Camanachd Association chief executive officer, added: ‘The Camanachd Association was instrumental in bringing together a number of partners who shared in our vision for a Bught Park that could excite people and become an iconic and modern home to community sport and shinty.

‘News of the levelling up fund is a testament to the power of working in partnership and we look forward to playing a key role in supporting the next steps as plans for the Bught Park progress.

‘I would like to pay particular tribute to our team at the Camanachd Association – board past and present and staff – who have played a crucial role in these developments so far, to Inverness Shinty Club for its continued work in the community and to our partners at Highlife Highland, Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise who all played a crucial role.’

John Finlayson, Camanachd Association director and Highland councillor, said: ‘I am delighted to hear such positive news for Inverness, the Highlands and the game of shinty.

‘Again the success of this bid shows the importance of partnership working between public bodies, sporting organisations and communities.

‘I am sure everyone across the Highlands and within the game of shinty nationally is excited by the prospect of an improved Bught Park which will help sustain and develop our sport in the years ahead.’

Drew McNeil, Inverness Shinty Club development director, said: ‘Highland Council’s successful bid to the UK Government’s levelling up fund is the culmination of some great work.

‘This funding has the potential to transform these two areas and investment in the development of the stadium is overdue.

‘It’s extremely exciting but it needs to be tempered as the devil is in the detail and that’s not clear yet.

‘We look forward to future discussions on behalf of shinty within the city affording Scotland’s first sport a base befitting the cultural importance of our traditional sport.

‘Inverness Shinty Club has always seen the Bught stadium pitch as its home since the 1930s.

‘It is not just Inverness that benefits from that, but all of shinty across Scotland.

‘During the last five years, Inverness Shinty Academy has overseen the transition of shinty among primary and secondary boys and girls to a position of mainstream sport across the city.

‘Pre-covid, there was shinty being played in 15 primary schools and more than 400 youngsters attending those sessions.

‘These children all require a home/hub to play and develop their skills and the Bught is the location of the only two shinty pitches in the city.

‘A refurbished centre would give our ambitious development plans a boost and create a shinty legacy for the city at the Bught.’

Highland Council Leader councillor Margaret Davidson said: ‘We look forward to working with the Camanachd Association, the community and other stakeholders on the development of this great project at the Bught.’